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Swedish Ambassador, Norwegian Deputy Ambassador to Speak on NATO, Ukraine, and European Security at Great NATO Debate Event

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Sweden and Finland’s subsequent decision to join NATO have brought the issue of NATO expansion to the forefront of global security and attention. Recognizing the vital importance of these issues, four Minnesota Urban Debate League high school students will debate the implications of Nordic countries joining NATO in a showcase debate, and the Swedish Ambassador and Norwegian Deputy Chief of Mission will speak, respond, and take questions about Ukraine, Russia and the future of European security. 

The event will be held at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Thursday, September 22 from 5:00–7:45 p.m. 

Her Excellency Ambassador of Sweden, Karin Olofsdotter, and Torleiv Opland, Deputy Chief of Mission, Norwegian Embassy in Washington D.C., will join the event virtually and speak on a panel. Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor of the United States will accept his 2022 Champion of Change Award and share remarks virtually. 

Governor Tim Walz and First Lady Gwen Walz will provide remarks live and in person, and Mayor Jacob Frey, and Mayor Melvin Carter will serve on the “Turn the Tables” panel. MPR News Host and Senior Reporter Nina Moini will serve as emcee, and Star Tribune Editorial Writer and Columnist, John Rash, will announce the winner. 

Arguing the Affirmative will be Maren Lien, senior at St. Paul Central High School and Leah Schwitzer Rodriguez, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. Arguing the Negative will be Sebastian Crea, a senior at Highland Park Senior High School, and Lillie Elizabeth Perez, a sophomore at Tartan High School, Oakdale. All are members of their schools’ debate teams, hosted by the Minnesota Urban Debate League, a program of Augsburg University. 

The Affirmative team will argue that NATO expansion will provide an important bulwark of stability, democracy, and a main force for solving climate change. While the Negative team will maintain that NATO expansion provokes rather than restrains conflict, and undermines both European security, trade, and climate change mitigation. 

The event is the 10th Anniversary of the Great Debate series, in which MNUDL students have performed in a debate on a timely topic and been judged by the mayors and other VIPs. 


The Minnesota Urban Debate League is a program of Augsburg University that provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate in Twin Cities high schools and middle schools. The mission of MNUDL is to empower students through competitive academic debate to become engaged learners, critical thinkers, and active global citizens who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities. Currently, MNUDL serves more than 1,000 students at 40 partner schools and has seen sustained growth in student participation since its inception in 2004, in programs including national topic policy debate, middle school debate, Spanish Debate League, East African Debate, Financial Literacy Leadership Debates, and MDAW Summer Speech & Debate Camp. 

For more information, contact: Minnesota Urban Debate League, Amy Cram Helwich, (612) 359-6467, 


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